The forced transformation policies, or quotas, that Cricket South Africa is enforcing, are beginning to poison the game at international level.
Evidence of the problem arose during the public slagging match between CSA president Norman Arendse and Protea’s coach Mickey Arthur over the racial composition of the touring squad to Bangladesh. Arendse insisted that all squads have 6 non white players for a 14 man squad and 7 for a 15 man squad, while Arthur professed the need to have the best players selected, on merit and not colour, and for consistency in selection. While Arthur seemed to have won that round it was obvious to everyone that Arendse would not change his view.
This became evident when the squad to tour India was announced and Andre Nel, who has been a regular player in the Test team for a few years, was suddenly left out in favour of Charl Langeveld, and subsequently bringing the racial composition of the team up to Arendse’s target.
Not withstanding that Langeveld is a very good bowler, and worthy of a place in the team, it was abundantly obvious to everyone that a white player had been dropped and replaced by a non white player. This is no way to treat either player, and is an insult to non white players more than anything.
Nel is said to be so upset by what has happened that he is considering his future as a South African player. To be dropped because of skin colour is a definitive step backwards for a county with a past immerged in racism.
Langeveld has since pulled out of the tour, citing the emotional damage that such treatment and controversy has done to him, that he would not be able to give his best under the circumstances of his inclusion. This from a player who clearly sees that he is being used as a pawn for political gains, and wants none of it.
“As players we all have a good idea of when we are clearly in the running for selection and when we aren’t,” Langeveldt said. “You just have to look at Andre’s Test record compared to mine and the fact that he has been part of all the Test match plans while I haven’t played a Test match for two years.
“I have always fought for a place in the team but I don’t want to be put there because of my colour. Up to now I have been very happy in my role in the ODI team and I know my value there. I’m quite upset by this now and I’m going to need a bit of time to consider my future.”
The players are fully aware of the poison that is seeping through their game and, as sportsmen, want to be picked solely on merit, and not on race.
Andre Nel added:
“I’m as upset for Langes as I am for myself,” he said. “We are good team-mates and I have a lot of respect for him. We are both passionate about playing for South Africa and neither of us deserves to feel like this. It is hard to just shrug it all off.”
CSA is leading South African cricket down a dangerous path that will only include more turmoil and suffering for players, and increase racial tensions within the country. Black players do not want or deserve to be treated as pawns. Their ability and talent is questioned by such actions and the pressure put on them can only damage careers. CSA needs to talk to the players and not pander to their own goals, while harming those they should be representing, and the game as a whole.